Commentary

Thomas Elias

Columnist and author Thomas Elias writes a syndicated politcal column appearing twice weekly in 70 newspapers around California, with a circulation of over 1.89 million. He has won numerous awards from organizations like the National Headliners Club, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, and the California Taxpayers Association. He has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize in distinguished commentary.

Elias is the author of two books, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It" (now in its third edition; also published in Japanese and recently optioned for a television movie) and "The Simpson Trial in Black and White," co-authored with the late Dennis Schatzman. He is currently at work on a third book about his experiences with kidney failure and later as a kidney transplant recipient.

Elias was the West Coast correspondent for Scripps Howard Newspapers for 15 years before he began writing books. Among many other assignments in that position, he covered eight national political conventions; every planetary fly-by; the rise of the AIDS plague; several World Series, Olympics and Super Bowls; two papal visits; several national political campaigns; as well as conducting numerous investigative projects. His work has resulted in the unseating of two judges; helped create a major state park and cause significant changes in the federal treatment of immigrants. A former Asociated Press staff writer, he keeps his hand in spot news and feature reporting by serving between book projects as a regular contributor to Long Island Newsday and the national Cox News Service. He has made numerous radio and television appearances on such programs as the Today Show, CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News, Larry King Live, Rivera Live and C-Span's Book TV.

Elias holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from Stanford University. He has taught journalism at the University of Southern California, California State University at Northridge, and two other Cal State campuses. He has been honored for his volunteer work by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, the National Kidney Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League. He serves on the national advisory boards of the Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation and the Center for Talented Youth, John Hopkins University.

Elias lives in Santa Monica, Calif., with his wife Marilyn, a health and science reporter for USA Today. They have one son, Jordan.

Southern California Focus

From the moment Franklin Roosevelt proposed America’s first minimum-wage law in 1938 (25 cents per hour, or $11 a week), conservatives have fought increases every time and everywhere they’ve been proposed.

Californians don’t trust their state government. That’s nothing really new, but right now there’s as much cause for distrust as ever before in modern times.

At the very moment that California’s largest utility company was being assessed a $14 million fine for failing to report discovery of flawed records on its gas pipelines in the San Francisco Peninsula town of San Carlos, the same company was asking for well over $1 billion in rate increases to pay for repairs to that very same pipeline system.

If there’s a state budget surplus, let’s return it to the people we took it from, goes the demand these days from conservative Republicans led by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who now represents a lot of barren desert and would like to be governor of California.

Ever since San Francisco’s Leland Yee joined his colleagues Ron Calderon of Montebello and Roderick Wright of Los Angeles on the state Senate’s indicted/convicted list and then all three were suspended, other senators have recognized they must restore the public’s trust.

If it seemed like déjà vu all over again the other day when the state’s parole board issued a decision that could free a leading disciple of perhaps the most vicious killer California has ever seen, that’s because it was.

For almost two months, parents of California public school pupils have been able to claim with no proof that their religion precludes getting their children vaccinated against once dreaded and disabling diseases like polio, rubella, mumps, pertussis and smallpox.

Despite heavy mid-February rains that briefly drenched Northern California and the respectable ensuing snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the California drought remains.

Cleaner air, that’s the aim of about $30 million in “hydrogen highway” grants given each year by the California Energy Commission to companies that will build refueling stations for the hydrogen fuel cell cars due to hit the road between now and 2017.

White elephant: an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. — Wikipedia

One in every eight or nine earthquakes is followed by an even more powerful aftershock, officially making the first quake into a foreshock.

Here’s a bit of unsolicited advice to Congress and the president about the newest free-trade agreement in the works for America, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which, because of its location, would affect California more than any other part of this country: Go slow and open up the negotiations to the news media and public.

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